“How about an extra-large and highly variable luggage compartment in a high-performance sports car? What is presently still a rhetorical question will soon become a concrete offer.”

Ignore the slightly tortured English – the first line of BMW’s press release reads like poetry to me. The PR bods are, in their inimitable way, alluding to the much yearned for and almost mythologised arrival of the first M3 Touring ever to see production. In short, it's happening.

New BMW M3 Touring due in 2022 to rival Audi RS4 Avant

This is excellent news, and while I’m sure someone will correct me in the comments, personally I find it impossible to not get very excited indeed about an M3 Touring.

Brits have a long-standing love of estate cars, and really quick ones especially, because the marriage of super-saloon fireworks and XL coachwork covers so many bases. These unusual cars are fast and they’re special. But equally, they’re low-key, useful and in many ways exist as the respectable face of hooligan engineering. Especially when debadged.

Of course, we also love the M3, as evidenced by the fact that you can hardly drive 10 minutes in this country without seeing one. Hit the classifieds and you’ll also probably find some home-made ‘M3 Tourings’, where the running gear, front bodywork, wheels and skirts from the saloon have found their way on to some 330i Touring, sometimes to stunning effect. Someone has even carried out this procedure with the recent M3 CS and the result is what, in Autocar road-test parlance, you'd call 'compelling'.

There is clearly an appetite for this car, which makes it so curious that BMW has waited decades to give the Audi RS4 and Mercedes-AMG C63 some proper competition. I’m not sure why that is, but do know that the company has always regarded sales of Alpina’s superb Alpina B3 and D3 Touring models as ‘keeping customers in the family’. Hmm. Because of Alpina's tiny production numbers, this line sounded unconvincing when I first heard it and, given today's announcement, seems even more far-fetched. An M3 Touring is the car BMW should have started building many years ago, and it seems to me they've only just realised it. 

What has really stuck in the craw of enthusiasts is that, while denying us thoroughbred performance estates, M has seen fit to extensively build out its range of SUVs. Given that, in purely technical terms, it is not – by BMW’s own admission – particularly difficult or expensive to make Touring versions of M saloons and run them down the usual production lines, the whole arrangement is odd.